Katie Anderson, Soprano
Courtney Elvira, Mezzo-Soprano
Alaskan soprano Nicole Besa was this year’s 3rd place winner in the international Classical Singer Competition, and was last seen performing at Lyric Opera of Chicago in “The King and I,” directed by Lee Blakeley and conducted by David Chase.
Ms. Besa has been heard as Marie/ La Fille du Régiment, Gretel/ Hansel and Gretel, Zerlina/ Don Giovanni, Adele/ Die Fledermaus, Musetta/ La Bohème, Pamina/ Die Zauberflöte, Mme. Silberklang/ Der Schauspieldirektor, Yum-Yum/ The Mikado, Trix/ The Drowsy Chaperone, Yvette/ Miss Saigon, and Liat/ South Pacific. Ms. Besa has been young artist on full scholarship at both the Metropolitan International Music Festival under the direction of Sharon Cheng and Wei-En Hsu, and the Tiroler Opern Program in Austria under the direction of Metropolitan Opera director Elizabeth Bachman. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University and her Associates in Theatre Arts from Brigham Young University.
Meghan Hilker, Mezzo-Soprano
Rebecca Buechel graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2015 with a B. M. in vocal performance. She currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is pursuing an M. M. in vocal performance, studying with Jim Doing. She has a teaching assistantship in voice at UW Madison. While in Madison, she has appeared as #3 in Transformations with UW Opera Theatre and The Duchess of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers with Madison Savoyards. Upcoming performances include Mistress Quickly in Falstaff with UW Opera Theatre.
Samantha Lax, Soprano
Erin K. Bryan, soprano, is currently pursuing a DMA in voice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the tutelage of Paul Rowe. With a passion for oratorio, she was most recently heard as soprano soloist for Mozart’s Coronation Mass at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, as well as Pergolesi's Stabat Mater in Louisville, KY. Recent operatic roles include #2/Anne Sexton (Transformations) and Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) with UW Opera, Asilah (A Woman in Morocco) with Kentucky Opera, and Annina (La Traviata) with Cedar Rapids Opera. In June, she returned to Cedar Rapids Opera to sing Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. Erin holds degrees from Lawrence University, where she studied with Steven Spears and Patrice Michaels, and the University of Louisville, where she studied with Edith Davis Tidwell. This March, she will sing the Governess in UW-Madison's production of The Turn of the Screw.
Karen Autumn Schriesheim, Soprano
Michaella Cipriani is fourth year student at Northwestern University studying mechanical engineering and vocal performance. Her most recent opera roles include Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi) and La Suora Zelatrice (Suor Angelica). She is currently directing a production of Mozart’s Magic Flute with Northwestern’s Undergraduate Company of Opera Singers. She has served as a director, producer, performer, props designer, costumer and supertitle author for various musicals and operas at Northwestern and as a technical direction intern/carpenter at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre. She has performed as a soloist with the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra, Opera Project Columbus, The New Albany Symphony Orchestra, The Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and Northwestern’s Baroque Music Ensemble. This past summer, she wrote a full English lyric translation Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro on a Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grant. She is also the adaptor of an abridged, English-language version of Monteverdi book 8.
Lydia Rose Eiche, Soprano
Sean Lynch, Baritone, originally hails from Oshkosh, WI. There, he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He then attended the University of Iowa, earning a Master of Arts Degree in Voice. Sean made his professional debut as Dr. Falke in The Genesius Guild’s production of Die Fledermaus. He has also been a Young Artist in the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre Young Artist Program. This past April, Sean appeared as Johannes Brahms in Fresco Opera Theatre’s production of Clara. His other performance credits include The Vicar in Albert Herring, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette, and Amelia’s Husband in Amelia goes to the Ball. At the University of Iowa in the winter of 2014, Sean also collaborated with pianist Casey Rafn in a staged performance of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise.
Samantha Farmilant, Soprano
Wisconsin-born baritone Tim Murray recently made his New Jersey Symphony debut as the baritone soloist in Berlioz’s Lélio under the baton of Jacques Lacombe. His credits include Pater Ecstaticus in Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Oratorio Society of New York and the role of Le Vicomte de Valmont in Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons - the opera based on the notorious book and film. Previous credits include Leporello in Don Giovanni with both New York Lyric Concert Opera and Manhattan School of Music, Le Meutrier in Bloch’s Macbeth, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos with Twin Cities Fringe Opera, and chorus work with Minnesota Opera, a company with which Tim has worked as a performer for their elementary school outreach program. Tim is a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music.
Luke Honeck, Tenor
A Milwaukee native, soprano Emily Pogorelc is currently in her third year at the Curtis Institute of Music and is a student of Julia Faulkner. With Curtis Opera Theatre, Emily will perform as the Fire in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Lucia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Lisette in Puccini’s La Rondine. Last season, Emily sang the roles of Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme and Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Curtis Opera Theatre, Chan Parker in the New York premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD and the title role in David Hertzberg's The Rose Elf in Opera Philadelphia’s Double Exposure. With the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Emily performed in Berio’s Sinfonia at Carnegie Hall and Verzion Hall. She also was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival, performing as Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Berenice in Lost Luggage (Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro).
Anna M. Polum, Soprano
Anna Polum, holds degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Music Education and Voice Performance. She is currently working on her Master’s in Music in Voice Performance at the University of Wisconsin – Madison studying under Jim Doing. Anna has won numerous NATS competitions, placing 2nd and 1st for the past 4 years both in Wisconsin and Alaska. She has also been singing with various opera companies and festivals for quite some time. Most recently she sang Contessa Almaviva in the University Opera’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro. In the 2016-2017 season Anna will be the Soprano Studio Artist for Madison Opera, covering roles such as Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Chan Parker (Charlie Parker’s Yardbird), and Pamina, as well as singing Papagena in the same production of Die Zauberflote.
Aidan Smerud, Bass-Baritone
Mezzo-soprano Ashley Puenner, from Crystal Lake, Illinois, holds a Master of Music from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor’s of Music from Illinois Wesleyan University. Recent highlights include: Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and Carmen in The Tragedy of Carmen with KU Opera, and Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center. Pursuing an avid interest in newly composed music, she has premiered works by several composers including Emile Naoumoff and Forrest Pierce, along with commissioning a song cycle by American composer Nathan Jones (Six Qabbani Love Songs). Ms. Puenner is currently a Studio Artist with Florentine Opera where she will appear as Mrs. Hurstwood in the world premiere of Aldridge and Garfein's Sister Carrie, to be released on the Naxos label.